TO: News/Reporting Staff
FROM: Editorial Staff
IN RE: Guidelines for the next four years
To all journalistic and support staff:
The next four years are going to be a challenging and exciting time for our profession. We in the Editorial and Management departments are enthusiastic about the opportunities that lie ahead.
For that reason, we’re circulating these brief guidelines and policies to help shape your reporting as we enter a new political era. This is by no means comprehensive, but it provides some key directions for the language we’ll be using and the focus we’re bringing to the next four years.
Please note that this Memorandum replaces the previous Memorandum dated November 2012. That one should be removed from its frame above your cubicle and replaced with this one.
Words and phrases to avoid: drone, executive privilege, partisan scandal, obstructionist Congress, economic growth, and Iran.
Words and phrases to utilize more frequently: stagnation, left the work force, deficit, civilian casualties, independent prosecutor, and golf.
Areas we’d like to see more fully explored: homelessness, family disintegration, stubborn unemployment, inner-city crime, and government overreach.
Areas we believe have been adequately covered and need no further treatment: Arab Spring, Planned Parenthood, and cash-for-clunkers.
In foreign affairs, we’d like to see some more coverage of the nascent anti-American attitude bubbling up in European capitals and the Arab world. In addition, we’d like to see more coverage of street demonstrations, graffiti, and other artifacts of anti-American and anti-Trump sentiment that will probably happen or start happening soon. We’d like more reporting on these events. When we say “more,” we mean “any.” And just because none of these things have happened yet is no reason not to cover them fully.
In domestic affairs, it’s important to remember that almost any hard-to-read scrawl on the side of a wall is probably some form of hate message. Bear in mind our current stylebook as regards these events: One to three documented cases of racially tinged action (mean tweet, bigoted voicemail, tone of voice) are described as a “sharp uptick” in “potentially violent hate crimes.” Greater than three discrete events within a 14-day period should be described as a “hate epidemic.” One or fewer events can be characterized as indicating that bigotry is “sweeping the nation.” See your specific department editor if you have any questions.
When covering political events or the president, please be aware that it’s no longer a firing offense to describe his leisure travel as “vacation,” nor is it any longer required that a round of golf be contextualized in a racial or sympathetic way. The president’s children are no longer “gifted” and “insightful” and “possessed of a rare and appealing ability to spar good-naturedly with their patient and brilliant father.” In addition, the first lady of the United States is no longer required to be described as an “icon” and a “political and social force in her own right.”
Please also note that the constitutionally designated business of the legislative branch of government is once again to serve as a useful check on the powers of the executive branch, and it is no longer a subversion of the Founders’ will to obstruct, oppose, and otherwise deny the president the unfettered ability to enact his agenda.
And before we forget: The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution is now fully operative again.
In cultural arenas, our feature editors are asked to make certain that each recipe column, special-interest section, dance-recital review, and daily word puzzle has a clearly stated perspective on the current president. Our readers expect — and deserve — to find clever and insightful glancing references to the president, his family, his hairstyle, and his immigration policies (such as they are) in every movie review and/or television listing.
The creative force behind the HBO series Girls is to remain a ubiquitous media and high-culture touchstone and should be mentioned in every piece we print, if possible.
Also: Anyone currently on staff with close or nearly close relatives in the states of Ohio, West Virginia, or Kentucky or in what is currently called the “Rust Belt,” please report to Editorial for instructions on how to begin your new monthly column titled “Heartland Voices.” In addition: We are offering a substantial financial incentive for anyone on the reporting staff to begin the process of becoming a “trans” person. Very interested in developing that.
These are, of course, just guidelines, and we will amend them from time to time as events warrant. In the meantime, remember: Our job is to pursue the truth wherever we find it and in whatever shape it’s in, fix it up a bit, maybe do a small amount of cosmetic work on it, and then decide whether our audience can handle it. It’s a sacred trust! Onward!